NGT panel inspects pharma unit in Barnala

Bathinda: Acting on complaint alleging air and water pollution by a pharmaceutical company, a National Green Tribunal (NGT)-monitored committee headed by Justice Jasbir Singh (retd) visited a unit of IOL Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Limited at Fatehgarh Chhana village in Barnala district on Wednesday.

The committee members, while checking the factual position on pollution, also collected water and soil samples from within and outside the company, to be tested in some laboratory.

Barnala resident Beant Singh Bajwa had filed a complaint with the NGT, stating that the unit had been discharging effluents through underground bore, thereby contaminating water and also emitting polluted air. He said the state government and state pollution control board failed to take action as the company management wielded political influence.

Earlier, farmer organisation BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) had accused the Trident Group, whose unit is located close to IOL, of spreading air and water pollution and had held protests for days outside its unit. The NGT-monitored committee comprising Justice Jasbir, committee member and Rajya Sabha member Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, and technical expert Babu Ram visited places on the company premises and checked the water inlet and outlet points, air discharging instruments, and the drain flowing close to the factory.

Bajwa had claimed that the water in drain was polluted due to chemicals being discharged in it.

Bajwa said, “Upon finding air and water pollution, we approached factory officials and the district administration, but nobody listened to us. Later, I filed the petition in NGT with a prayer to look into the matter and direct the industry to stop spreading air and water pollution due to which the people of nearby areas were facing hardships.”

NGT principal bench headed by chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel, judicial member Sudhir Agarwal and expert member Prof A Senthil Vel had on November 9 ordered the district magistrate of Barnala and state pollution control board to look into the matter and take remedial action. It also asked the monitoring committee to oversee the verification.

When contacted, Seechewal said, “The samples of water and soil have been collected from various spots, including drain and tube well motors from nearby places. These will be tested at the laboratory and any action will be taken as per reports.”